Seafood export target raised amidst hardships
By Trung Chanh - The Saigon Times Daily
CAN THO – The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has revised the seafood export turnover target for 2012 from US$6.5 billion to US$6.8 billion, regardless of financial distress faced by seafood traders, widespread diseases and shrinking export markets.
Seafood export turnover had reached US$2.9 billion as of end-June, up 10.6% year-on-year. This means the country has to export some US$3.9 billion worth of seafood products from now to the year’s end to achieve the new target of US$6.8 billion.
However, seafood exporters deemed such a target unobtainable by the year’s end due to multiple difficulties at present, especially capital shortage and shrinking markets.
Duong Ngoc Minh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said shipping charges in 2012 had increased 70% from 2011, while the costs of labor, power and environment had picked up 40%. The euro has depreciated by 25%, while Vietnam dong remains stable, putting exporters under capital pressure, said Minh at the review conference on tra fish production and consumption in the year’s first half held in Dong Thap in late June.
Meanwhile, VASEP general secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said tra fish export to the European Union (EU) had dropped 12%. VASEP ascribed such a decline to the eurozone public debt crisis and tariff pressure.
The decline in exports to EU can be covered by higher export volumes to the U.S. and Hong Kong. However, seafood firms said the problems in the local market were more worrying.
Minh of VASEP said: “The seafood industry is approaching “death”, a “death” at home. We have a great advantage in consumption market but the operation mechanism of banks, from lending rates to credit limits, has choked off capital circulation of enterprises. As such, enterprises and farmers are forced to sell their products at any price to repay debts.”
Without solution to remove the difficulties for the seafood sector, more traders would dump their products and more farmers would lack capital for reinvestment, making it hard to achieve the export target of this year, stated Minh.
According to the agriculture department of Tra Vinh, the shrimp cultivation area of the province is facing more severe diseases. As of mid-May, over 8,000 hectares of shrimp farming had been killed, equivalent to 15,000 tons of materials, bringing a loss of VND800-900 billion, said Nguyen Van Phong, vice chairman of Tra Vinh’s government.
Incomplete statistics show that diseases have caused damage worth some VND5 trillion in shrimp farming provinces, with tens of thousands of hectares of shrimp having died of diseases. Tra Vinh, Bac Lieu and Soc Trang are the provinces that suffer the most.